30.12.2012 PREMIER LEAGUE 2012/2013
Everton - Chelsea 1:2
Not the first and certainly not the last time, I decided to purchase the tickets directly from the Club webpage, FC Everton this time. This was not the first time I came across an “Obstructed View” feature of the selected tickets. It usually means a certain degree of visual discomfort related to a pillar (or pillars, integral part of the stadium construction) being within eyeshot. This was the case at Celtic Park in Glasgow and the Mega Solar Stadion in Freiburg. Yet no people should be allowed to enter Lower Bullens at Goodison Park in Liverpool – it is really a minor issue that one can see practically just the pitch and besides, the fans stand up to see any ball pass in the penalty area – which makes visibility even more obstructed. The actual problem is that in case of emergency (e.g. fire) it would be quite easy to assess the number of casualties – no one from the rear sections of the said tribune is going to survive since no option for evacuation exists. It is somewhat shocking, that in England where – in the context of Heysel and Bradford respective tragedies – security measures at football grounds had been severely tightened, somebody still issued a license to use the Lower Bullens – the tribune made almost entirely of wood (including seats!). And besides, it is not true the roof was leaking, there was hardly any rain…
The Evertonians made a superb start to the game and got an early lead through a goal from the RSA International Steven Pienaar. The pressure upon Chelsea continued for the next few minutes and subsequent goals seemed a question of time. Yet it ended up with the ball hitting the post from a free kick and a few top class interventions by Cech. From then on Chelsea increased their ball possession and started controlling the game to the extent that Howard had to also prove his values. And finally they made it – to the excitement of numerous fans of the London team– through a header from Lampard in the 42nd minute – a typical “goal into the locker room”. The Chelsea captain was fit, as always, ubiquitous and dedicated in his efforts to offensive duties in the first half whereas fulfilling much more of his defensive duties in the second – a comment on “babysitting David Luiz” was made by the English media after the match. This did not prevent Lampard from scoring the second goal though. Interestingly, his contract with Chelsea expires by end of June 2013 and the Londoners have not yet decided to offer one of their best players a proposal for an extension. Age seems no serious argument, in the light of Lampard’s recent performance and in the case of continued hesitation of the club owner (Benitez is said to be a temporary workforce only and hence has hardly any big influence on staffing) there will be a few other teams ready to employ the 34-year old England International – PSG have reportedly been among those for a long time. Apart from Lampard, performances of Mata and Cech were most impressive – the latter was substituteddue to injury, in the second half for Ross Turnbull – which triggered a lot of comments since very few would expect Chelsea to have another goalkeeper at all. Whereas Moses, who replaced Hazard, happened to be slower than a line referee and did not contribute anything to the game.
Everton did not have anybody even close to Lampard’s format. Besides the goal scorer, Phil Jagielka (apparently of Polish descent) presented a few good tackles, however this was certainly too little to challenge the holders of the last season’s Champions League title. Lack of a decent striker is eye catching and, at times, irritating – Nikica Jelavic looked more of a “qui pro quo” in this respect.
At the final whistle the crowd greeted the local team warmly, despite the defeat – their efforts and commitment were definitely worth it, the BBC described the game pace as “breathless”. I was sorry for David Moyes since I was hoping he would teach Benitez a lesson – both have old scores to settle still from the time when Rafa was in charge of Liverpool FC. Moyes was a bit unlucky this time however the rumours are such that he is one of the most serious candidates to success sir Alex Ferguson – who, by the way, turned 71 the following day.